Proposal Preparation

Title Page

Typically the cover page of each proposal takes the following format:

A Proposal to the L. V. Smith Foundation for the Establishment of the Advanced Medical Research Facilityat the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California May 2002

Table of Contents

This section is optional depending on the length and complexity of the proposal. As well as providing an outline, it should assist a reviewer in finding her/his way through the proposal. We advise numbering proposal pages.

Executive Summary

A clear and concise summary of the project. Unless stated otherwise, the summary is a 100 to 300 word condensation of the essential information in a proposal. It should be clearly and concisely written section emphasizing the following:

the timeliness, significance and need
the specific objectives
the general procedures and evaluation methods
the anticipated impact, indicating who will benefit and how

The summary is very important because many funding decision-makers may read only the review comments, the summary, and proposal budget.

Project Description

This is the main body of the proposal. The project description can be subdivided into the following components:


This should be a brief summary of the problem (or need), proposed method of solution, and anticipated outcomes. It may contain information showing that the proposer is well-acquainted with the past and current work and literature in the field and that the proposed project will advance or add to the present state of knowledge in this field.

Project Rationale (or statement of need) and Significance

This section defines the project rationale including the overall purpose, need and justification for the project. It explains the significance of the proposed idea in relationship to the sponsor’s goals and objectives in a way that will logically justify the expenditure of funds.

Goals and Objectives

Goals and general statements specifying the project’s desired outcomes. They are value statements indicating the general direction of the project. Objectives are specific statements of the expected accomplishments of the proposed activities and usually include the following:

description of the outcome in measurable terms
the criteria for measuring the acceptability of the outcome.

Procedures and Methods

This section describes the approach to be used in the proposed activity. Describe in a step-by-step sequence (including time estimates) techniques or methods to be used. Do not hesitate to use figures or tables wherever they will help clarify a point. If the proposed activity will require an unusual amount of funds for any particular category of expense, explain in detail. (Many declined proposals fail because of poorly-defined methodology.)

In general, the procedures and methods section will answer the following: * What is going to be accomplished?

How is it going to be accomplished?
When is the activity going to be undertaken?
Why was this particular methodology or action plan chosen?


This section presents the overall evaluation process, both for assessing the ongoing progress toward achieving the objectives and the actual outcome of the proposed activities. The evaluation component will perform the following functions:

It will monitor progress to determine whether the project is being implemented as planned.
It will assess actual outcomes to determine the extent to which the objectives are being achieved.
It will provide the feedback necessary to assess whether modifications in the project are necessary.


In this section of your proposal you need to inform the supporting organization how you plan to support the project financially after initial funding has ended. If other institutions are involved in the project, please list. Describe the amount of funding they will provide and the purpose that it will serve.

Explain how this funding will allow you to continue work on your project and the areas of study that it will allow you to explore.


This section should be included only if literature has been cited in the proposal narrative. The number of references should be kept to a minimum. A numbered list, or any acceptable bibliographic method, may be used.

Each project is unique. Therefore, the written proposal should emphasize the most critical information the funder needs to make a decision.

Please Note: All proposals to foundations (with or without budgets) must be reviewed by the Office of Foundation Relations.